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Mad Men recap

August 17, 2009
Out of Town  Season 3, Episode 1

By Shannon

Warning, heavy spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t seen the episode, please revisit this article after you have done so.  Quick note, my recaps will be just that.  If you want deep analysis of why Don’s office chair is a metaphor for washing dishes look elsewhere.

I was so excited today as I counted down the minutes to the season premiere of Mad Men.  Cocktail in hand, my husband and I set up camp on the couch and tuned in to  our most eagerly anticipated returning television show.  What would become of the fight between Duckie and Don?  Will Betty keep the baby?  Most importantly, what will happen with petulant Pete and the gun he holed up with last season in the finale?

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to find that they completely glossed over these cliff hangers. .  The lone exception was the status of Betty and bitty baby Draper.  From the looks of Betty’s burgeoning belly, she is about 6 or 7 months along, and that is where this episode begins, several months ahead of last season’s cliffhanger.

The episode begins with Don scalding some milk.  As he looks about the kitchen he sees flashbacks to his mother giving birth to a stillborn baby.  Ever the sweetheart, her husband chastises her for “killing another one”.  Next, we see Don’s father visiting a prostitute, who threatens to cut his dick off and fry it up in a pan if he knocks her up.  Pregnancy ensues.  The woman dies during childbirth, still rambling about cutting the mans dick off.   Naturally, the midwife finds Dick to be a splendid name for the baby boy. She delivers him to Don’s mother, who finally gets her baby, albeit in a less than ideal way.  Strange but true:  seeing these figures appear in different parts of the Draper house triggered inappropriate memories of the old Carousel of Progress from Disney’s Magical Kingdom in my head.

Don is jarred out of his daydream and delivers the milk to a sleepless Betty in bed.  Betty mentions that Sally took to some of Don’s  tools “like a little lesbian” and broke his suitcase. In a rare moment of tenderness, Don talks Betty to sleep.

Meanwhile at the office the Brits are shaking things up and fire the head of accounts, who is quite vocal about his displeasure. His parting words for his coworkers?  ”Fellow comrades in mediocrity, you can all go straight to hell.”   At least they waited until his wife was done with chemotherapy.  Pete is called into the office, and is told he is now head of accounts.  He does a creepy (isn’t everything Pete does creepy) celebratory dance and calls his wife to gloat.  Ken is also told he is going to be head of accounts.  When Pete finds out they are going to be sharing the accounts, he goes into full diva mode, pursing his lips and giving the stink eye to Ken.  He later pouts to his poor wife Trudie.  He is such a whiny baby.  I hate him.

Don and Sal are sent on a business trip for a campaign for London Fog raincoats.  Approximately 60 seconds into the flight a stewardess makes googly eyes at Don and drops the none too subtle hint that they are staying at the same hotel.  Guess we know what (or who) he’ll be doing later.  Cad.

Sal and Don dine with the stewardesses using fake names and fake job titles.  Later, Sal finds that his hotel room air conditioner is broken.  He calls a bellhop to service the air conditioner, and that’s not all that gets serviced, if you catch my drift. (did anyone else notice the ridiculous high waisted pants the bellhop had on?) Before the two can finish their rendez-vous a fire alarm goes off in the hotel.  I found it pretty funny that Don immediately heads for the window (to the fire escape).  Nowadays everyone would flock to the hallway.  It was weird to see the hotel occupants scurrying down the escapes.  Since Don had to climb down past Sal’s window, he got an eyeful of the bellhop scrambling to clothe himself.  Don looks startled, then continues down the stairs.

The next day on their flight, Don asks Sal if he can ask a question.  Sal (and all of us) are sure that Don is going to ask about what he saw, but he pulls the bait and switch and asks about an idea for an ad campaign.  Sal looks relieved.  I think Don will be keeping his mouth shut because of his own indiscretions.

When Don returns home, Betty looks the other way when Don leads his daughter to believe a pin with stewardess wings insignia was a gift for her.

Thoughts–I found it interesting that while women are relegated to second rate citizens by the men around them, the British secretary referred to the office as being run by a “gynocracy”.

I wish they would not have done that scene with Sal, because I think it just reinforces the negative stereotype that gays are promiscuous.  I would have preferred that he develop a relationship with someone over time.   To have him just start making out with someone he didn’t  really know cheapened Sal, and now he is just another cheater like Don.  I like liking Sal, I need someone root for on this show.  I don’t want Sal having tawdry trysts.  Plus, his wife is really sweet.  She doesn’t deserve what’s coming down the road.

Finally, it seems that they had to kick up the incessant smoking in the office stuff.  They one-upped themselves by having all the guys smoke cigars last night.

What did you think of the premiere?


One Response to “ Mad Men recap ”

  1. Renee on August 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I agree that the tension and plot points they spent all of Season 2 building, just kind of fizzled out in the season premiere. I was expecting more. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come.